Birmingham City Council workers will strike again on 23 and 24 April over the council’s plans to use “single status” negotiations to cut pay and jobs.
Unison, T&G Unite, GMB, Amicus and UCATT made the call on 9 April. They will stage pickets at refuse depots, schools, libraries, offices and care homes on each morning before joining a rally in Victoria Square at noon on Thursday April 24.
Many years back, local government employers and unions agreed a Single Status “framework” at national level, to put blue-collar and white-collar workers into a single pay structure. But each local authority was left to change its pay and grading structures to fit in.
About half of all UK local authorities have implemented some form of “Single Status”. There have been disputes in many parts of the country over pay cuts imposed on some workers in order to “level them down” to others.
Birmingham is the largest local authority in Europe. The Tory/Liberal coalition City Council seems set on using Single Status to “blaze a trail” through the pay and terms of employment of their workforce. Further, they plan to use the opportunity to privatise large swathes of council services.
The Council wants to introduce mechanisms whereby Council jobs will be “on a par” with the private sector. It has drawn up and issued a new contract for all employees which has not been agreed with unions. The unions have been in dispute with the Council since the contracts were issued in November 2007 for implementation in April 2008.
The Council wants a totally flexible workforce who do whatever job is required, from whatever location, and “performance related pay”.
The Council has declared residential units and day-centre facilities “unfit”, and plans to close them, with the service users “taken over” by private sector companies.